Aldro Thompson Hibbard Information and Inventory

Aldro Thompson Hibbard

(1886 - 1972)

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Aldro T. Hibbard 

(1886-1972)

A product of two Capes—born on Cape Cod and matured as an artist on Cape Ann—Aldro Hibbard became the spiritual center of this artists’ community. Hibbard was the consummate outdoorsman, capturing the deep frigid snows of Vermont or maintaining a .300-plus batting average in the North Shore baseball leagues. In his biography A.T. Hibbard: Artist in Two Worlds, John Cooley noted, “A is for Art, B is for Baseball; here endeth the alphabet.” Like George Bellows, Hibbard had to choose between bat and brush, professional baseball and art. They both made the same choice. Hibbard rejected the confines of his studio, despite the observation by his teacher Joseph DeCamp, the great Boston School portrait painter, that the young student made figure painting “look too easy.” In later years, writers referred to Hibbard as “the dean of the Frozen River School” and the artist soon to replace Gardner Symons and Edward Redfield as the leading interpreter of winter. A 1996 retrospective exhibition provided me the opportunity to interview many friends, students, and family members for an article I was writing. I heard stories of almost freezing to death in Vermont, of the ever-present cigar freezing to his lip… never quite the same afterward; of his early travels to Europe in 1914 and conversations with the great Joachim Sorolla in Spain, where they agreed that outdoor painting was where real painting occurred (the studio was “good for smoking in”); and of his brief arrest upon mistakenly being labeled a spy at the start of World War I. The first painting by Hibbard in the collection resulted from my parents and I visiting his studio in 1965 and was a classic Vermont winter woodland. In the early 1990s I located in a California gallery a very special painting of West River Valley, Vermont, that is the smaller version of a major 40" x 50" masterpiece illustrated in the A. T. Hibbard book and owned by the family. Two rare examples from his 1914 European trip were obtained in 1999: a coastal scene from Capri and a remarkable harbor image painted in Marseille while the young artist awaited passage across the Mediterranean to Morocco. This piece came from the private dealer Mark LaSalle. Through the unselfish help of a friend and a private dealer, I was fortunate to track down a major masterpiece from Hibbard’s early broken-color era, 1922, entitled Jeffersonville Winter. This piece demonstrates the artist’s advice to his students that in nature, snow absorbs and reflects all the colors around it: “pure white doesn’t exist in nature. Don’t paint with pure white.” Whether as founder and later president of the Rockport Art Association or the person charged with mixing the exact shade of red to paint Rockport’s historic fishing shed, Motif #1, Aldro Hibbard was a force to be reckoned with, and I am fortunate to have met him on many occasions. In the words of one of his students, Arnold Knauth, “Aldro Hibbard was one of the best men I ever knew… and of course, being an artist made him all the better.”

Aldro Thompson Hibbard Gallery